Exercise For Fitness

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Is physical activity important to health?

Yes, very much so. To illustrate a point, let us exaggerate and consider a situation that is extreme: a person who is bedridden, a stroke victim or a quadriplegic, someone practically unable to move. What happens? The muscles all over the body atrophy and in most instances replaced with fats, become flabby and lose bulk, the heart and lungs deteriorate, the circulation slows down, metabolism becomes impaired, the immune system declines, and the brain and all other organs function poorly. Humans, animals in general, were not meant to be vegetables. Physical activities are essential for cardiovascular fitness, fundamental to a healthy lifestyle.

What benefit do we get from exercise?

Medical literature is replete with documented studies showing increased levels of physical activity and fitness are associated with a decreased incidence of heart attack and hypertension (high blood pressure) and a fortified immune system, making the individual more resistant to infections and diseases. Regular exercise also makes one look better physically by improving muscle tone. The person who exercises regularly also has increased stamina, energy and capacity for work and leisure activities, superior ability to lose body fats and maintain a desirable weight, and has greater resistance to stress, fatigue and anxiety. They also have a more positive outlook on life. Those who are sedentary are twice more prone to develop heart attack.

What type of exercise is good for fitness?

Practically any form of physical activity helps, but a regimented exercise of half an hour to one hour, done at least 3-4 times a week, confers the greatest cardiovascular benefit. The exercise could be walking (leisurely to brisk), dancing, aerobics, bicycling, swimming, running, playing tennis, jogging, etc.

Why is brisk walking better than jogging?

In the 60s and 70s, jogging was very popular as a form of exercise. However, there were significant attendant complications resulting from jogging, like injuries to feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine, etc. Studies in Sports and Cardiovascular Medicine two decades later showed that the cardiovascular benefits from brisk walking were the same as those derived from jogging, minus the injuries.

What is Target Heart Rate?

When exercising, the heart rate normally speeds up. The heart rate that one wants to achieve with exercise is called Target Heart Rate (THR). Reaching this heart rate when exercising means maximum benefit is being derived from the physical activity. To compute your THR, subtract your age from 220. Example: the THR of someone who is 50 years old is 220 minus 50, or 170. When exercising, one tries to reach his/her THR, so long as no symptoms occur, like chest pains or tightness of the chest, dizziness or fainting. Some expected shortness of breath is normal, which should subside with rest. Among the elderly and those on medications, adjustments need to be made. The best thing to do before embarking on an exercise regimen is to consult your physician, who will advise you accordingly, and prescribe what is best for you.

How fast should the heart rate go down after exercise?

Your heart rate should go back down to your normal rate (pre-exercise heart or pulse rate) within 15 minutes after ending your exercise. Therefore, it is advisable to always take your pulse rate before you start your exercise. If it takes longer than 15 minutes, you should reduce your pace. It is prudent to take a 5 to 10-minute warm up, such as leisurely walking before engaging in brisk walking, or slow dancing before going into fast dancing, etc. After exercise, whatever it is, end the session with a 5 to 10-minute cool-down period that includes gentle stretching.

How much calories are burned by exercise?

For a 150-pound (about 68-kilo) person, doing the following for one hour burns the corresponding amount of calories indicated here: walking, 2 mph, 240 calories; walking 4.5 mph, 440; jogging 7 mph, 920; bicycling 6 mph, 240, 12mph, 410; jumping rope, 750; running in place, 660; running 10 mph, 1,280; swimming 25 yards per minute, 275; tennis, singles, 400. For half an hour of non-stop fast dancing (like swing or boogie), 200 calories; and, in contrast, for a 30-minute foreplay and sex, only 90 calories are burned, believe it or not.

What are the 3 kinds of exercise program?

They are: those that promote endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility. Any complete program for cardiovascular fitness should include all three. Components of endurance exercise include type, duration, frequency, and intensity.

Does exercise improve sexual libido?

Minus any medical problem and all other factors being equal, yes, a daily exercise regimen does improve sexual libido and also endurance for both the males and the females.

How about for those who already had a heart attack?

Properly prescribed exercise regimen after a heart attack can help reduce the risk of having another heart attack, and also improve the chances of survival, besides improving the quality of life. It is routine practice for the cardiologist to recommend post-heart attack cardiac rehabilitation exercises as a part of a comprehensive management for heart attack or coronary artery disease.

What are the benefits of a well-conditioned heart?

The heart of a well-conditioned person, beating at 50 beats per minute, pumps the same amount of blood in the circulation as the heart of a less conditioned (inactive) person beating at 75 beats per minute. The average heart pumps about 36,000 more times per day or 13 million more times a year, compared to the heart of a well-conditioned individual, which do not beat as fast, thereby having more reserves. The well-conditioned heart also has stronger and more efficient ventricles (muscles).

What is the minimum exercise recommendation?

The American College of Sports Medicine has the following minimum exercise recommendation for healthy men and women: Frequency: 3-5 days a week; Intensity: Target Heart Rate; Duration: 20-60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity depending on intensity; Method: Should use large muscle groups, walking, hiking, running, cycling, dancing, rowing, swimming, etc); Resistive Strength Training: at least one set of 8-12 repetitions of 8-10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups at least two times a week.

Is there such a thing as over-exercising?

Everything depends on the individual and his/her objective in doing the particular exercise regimen. Beyond one hour of daily moderate or vigorous exercise will result in little added cardiovascular/pulmonary fitness, and may only increase the risk of injuries attendant to the physical activity. But if the aim is to lose weight, and if the personís condition and endurance allow it, increasing the duration of the exercise may be done. However, remember that cutting the caloric intake, on top of the exercise, is the most effective way to lose the extra pounds.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.